23 July 2013

Industrial Rebalance

I have been pretty stumped by the thinking behind the recent changes to industrial ships. First there was the changes to the skill requirements which basically destroyed any progression through small to large haulers by making 'Racial Industrial I' enough to fly all indy ships for that race. Although it was a long time ago I can still remember the pleasure at progressing to increasingly larger Iterons, something that new pilots will no longer experience.

CCP then followed the skill mangling with the more recent proposals to almost completely overhaul the various indy ships to pigeon-hole them into particular roles. On the face of it this could have been really good. ORE have been making inroads to their niche industrial category. For a long time now we have been familiar with the various mining barges, the Orca, and most recently we were introduced to the mining frigate. This would have been the prefect time to give ORE some hauling ships. What mining operation doesn't have haulers doing the heavy lifting while the mining captains drink themselves silly?

Unfortunately it appears there was no budget for art changes to the industrial ships. CCP should have changed the ships dramatically leaving one or two indy ships per race and creating a whole new range of ORE haulers. Instead we got an mix of fast and tanky or slow and capacious for all races plus the races with inconvenient extra hauler tiers got forced into the roles that ORE ships would have better dealt with. This meant we were left with very familiar ships filling some vastly changed roles and leading to much player rage. A new range of ships and retirement of the inconvenient existing ships could have avoided that. And no, changing the names doesn't really make much difference.


I was totally taken aback by the level of rage the players vented on the forums about the changes to the industrial ships. Even in my own alliance's jabber server there were heated debates on the changes, somewhat fuelled by my own inability to understand what the big deal was. A long time ago I trained Gallente Industrial I. I chose that because I am Gallente, not because ship fitting guides told me this was the biggest ship. I trained through all the tiers to get to the Itty V because it was the largest for my race. If I was Caldari I would have probably done the same with the Badger. It appears I am alone in this dirty-role-player frame of mind. The unhappiness I encountered was around CCP removing a choice someone once made to train Gallente Industrial V instead some other race because that would get them in the biggest hauler. A similar problem encountered when CCP remove Deep Space Probes rendering Astromentrics V less useful due to the decreased value of having level V in that skill. Both these changes have affected skills I had chosen to train and I have had very little of the annoyance exhibited by people against both these changes.

My opinion on the whole thing is people need to stop being so tied to absolute numbers and look at the bigger picture overall. In the real world competing products move their relative strengths and weaknesses against each other all the time. If you are using product A and suddenly product B becomes better at what you want to do then you switch loyalties. It's hard to replicate this in a game without eternal stat inflation. This means buffs to some ships have to come as debuffs to other ships in the same class. This was seen in the combat ship rebalancing but is somewhat diluted by the greater number of variables that can be tweaked in combat ships. We still saw great upset as people whined that their outstanding Drake and Tengus were nerfed to being more average. Making the game more balanced, by definition will see all ships in a given bracket become more like each other. The increased variation in viable ships is better than having world+dog in boring Drakes. Haulers had only agility and capacity to mess with largely removing any possibility for meaningful variation between races given there is more than one hauler per race. The second iteration of the rebalance addressed that by creating specialist roles for the spare ships but still means there is no real variation between races. This is where the ORE ships should have come in, or maybe some other large company making specialised haulers - Interbus? The Miasmos will forever be the Iteron IV no matter what you call it. People are also still most likely to train Gallente as that gives access to the largest number of specialised haulers.


Is it really worth getting so worked up about this change? Adapting to a changing environment keeps life interesting. In EVE the environment includes not only the solar systems we fly through but also how all the ships themselves are best put to use. Changes to offensive and defensive module fitting requirements result in changes to the current in vogue fleet doctrines. This has a knock-on effect to the skills needed by the pilots flying these doctrines. The people building and doing invention jobs also need the right skills for the right ships. Why shouldn't there also be a flux in which ships are the best for hauling requiring indy pilots to keep their skillset current?


  1. I totally agree with you (I must stop doing that, its getting weird). When the hauler changes came out, I responded "cool! change! exciting". As usual, I don't really know what changes there will be until I board one but the rage that you mentioned in our jabber channel quite surprised me too. But then EVE is an outlet for RL frustrations and if there is nothing bigger to vent steam, haulers have to be it.

    I do think though that the hauler types are missing the point. CCP should have left haulers hulls entirely alone but added new rigs and mods. Want a PI hauler? Put in a "Planet Goo Expansion Rig I" or for ore a "Veldspar Cargo Expander II". Or whatever. Then have the skill queues go towards the ability to use that rig. It creates depth of game play, meta gaming, a market and you can't tell by looking at a Badger whether it is battlefit or PI hauler fit. Which makes them better for ganks and more dangerous to attack. Anyway. Water under the bridge. Change is always good.

  2. First there was the changes to the skill requirements

    This is the tier-cide that accompanied the cruisers and battlecruisers too, and I can see CCP's point with regards to this. Although there is the notion that to get in to a bigger ship requires further training the appropriate skill, CCP's argument was that by doing so, by having this bigger, better ship that you could now fly, you would almost never have a use for flying the previous ship. I can agree with this.

    Even with my Caldari background and massive choice of Badger or Badger Mark II, once I had trained to pilot the Mk II I never had reason to get back in the Badger. The same would almost certainly be true for the non-RPers would aimed for the Iteron V. Yes, they would train through the Iterons I to IV, but their goal was the biggest hauler and they would have no use for the other ships.

    So rather than have five levels of skill training that essentially were mere stepping stones to what you wanted to fly, and once you passed them you would never fly a 'lesser' ship, CCP's new philosophy is to make each ship worth flying and grant suitable bonuses based on how much time you are will to devote to skill training. This would make each ship viable based on its class, which is good for manufacturers as well as pilots, as it offers more choice.

    I think this is a good direction for the game to be headed, even if it may need an iteration or two to get right. As for the actual changes, I don't think I am experienced enough with industrial ships to fully understand the implications yet. As long as I can still catch them, that should be okay.